70 years ago today, Bockscar, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress Bomber, dropped “Fat Man”, a 10,300lb, 10ft long atomic bomb with a plutonium core, on Nagasaki, Japan. It fell for 43 seconds, detonating at 11:02 AM at an altitude of 1, 650ft, creating an explosion more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb used three days earlier, generating an estimated heat of 7,050 degrees Fahrenheit, and winds up to 624 mph, killing 70,000 – 80,000 people instantly, only 150 of which were military personnel.
To commemorate the anniversary of this atrocity, I painted a portrait of "Fat Boy".
Why do I paint bombs? The paintings are not necessarily beautiful. You wouldn’t want them hanging over your dining room table while eating breakfast, like you may envision a lovely landscape or an interesting portrait, and they may spark a much more heated conversation than you want if seen by guests in your living room.
That is precisely why I paint them. Bombs are interesting subject matter, because, graphically, they look neat, and hold power. They are polarizing. They are political. They are in your face. They remind me of the 250,000 killed instantly in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They remind me of my sister, who, because Japanese people are so precious to her heart, must get an excuse to miss class when those two cities are discussed in American history class because of the “Patriotism” (read: xenophobic racism and hatred) of the youth and even teachers cheering and “they got what they deserved!”-ing.
Then, bombs remind me of Vietnam. Did you know 7 million tons of bombs were dropped by the US on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia? 260 million cluster bombs (now banned by the Geneva Convention) were dropped in Laos alone: the equivalent of one bomber emptying a payload every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years.
Bombs remind me of the over 100,000 civilian lives lost in Iraq after September 11, 2001. They remind me of the Palestinian civilians killed by American ordinance used by Israel. They remind me of weddings, funerals, and cups of coffee abruptly destroyed by drone attacks approved by our Presidents.
Bombs remind me that living in the “Greatest Nation on Earth” means nothing if I have no empathy, compassion, and love for my neighbors on this Earth.
When I look at one of my finished painting, I long for a day when such imagery will be nothing more than a fact we learned in history class, and quickly forgot about because of its inhumanity.
A limited edition Hand Drawn Multiple of this image is now for sale here. Get yours before they run out!